RICHMOND, Va. -- As the new year begins, a number of bills passed by the Virginia General Assembly last year are now in effect in the Commonwealth.
While many of the laws passed by the legislative body took effect July 1, others were delayed until Jan. 1.
Minimum Wage Increase
Virginia's minimum wage goes from $9.50 per hour to $11 per hour on Jan. 1. Several more increases will take place over the years until the minimum wage eventually reaches $15 per hour in 2026.
Vehicle insurance requirements go up on Jan. 1 as minimum coverage for crashes with one victim goes from $25,000 to $30,000 and from $50,000 to $60,000 for a wreck with two or more victims.
An insurance agent with AAA said the new year is a good time to check-in with your provider.
"To just review it, if there's going to be any premium adjustments or increase that will be applied to you," Kristel Hoes said.
Another law changes the name of any stretch of U.S. Route 1 still named Jefferson Davis Highway to Emancipation Highway. While old signage still remains, Chesterfield County was set to be impacted, but county leaders voted last summer to instead rename it Route 1.
And starting in 2022, towns or cities with municipal elections in May are now in November with the rest of Commonwealth. Among those localities impacted is the town of Ashland.
The date for primary elections also shifts from the second to the third Tuesday in June.
Another law, which bans the use of animals for cosmetic testing in Virginia goes into effect and on July 1 it will ban the sale of any cosmetics that was developed using animal testing as of this year.
"We're really happy that Virginia has taken this step," Monica Engebretson, the public affairs head for North American Cruelty Free International, said.
Virginia was the fourth state to pass such a law and since then four more states have as well.
"Virginia is still very much a leader and this adds to momentum for what we're really hoping to do is pass a federal law," Engebretson said.
Among some of the other new laws, the DMV can issue what are called "identification privilege cards" to undocumented immigrants.
Another law prevents many public colleges and universities from asking for a person's criminal history during the admissions process. However, it does allow for that question after someone has been admitted -- and for the admission to be revoked if that history poses a threat to the school community.
Here's a list of some of the new laws in Virginia that took effect Jan. 1, 2022:
- SB 1428: This law will lead to changes in where you can buy your alcohol. ABC stores will longer sell "low alcohol beverage coolers" with an alcoholic content of 7.5% or less, unless it was made by an ABC licensed distiller. An impact statement stated "approximately 87 percent of its low alcohol beverage cooler gross sales in calendar year 2020 came from distilleries located outside of the Commonwealth" and that "ABC will attempt to replace the loss sales from low alcohol beverage coolers produced outside of Virginia with new products manufactured by Virginia distillers or products with alcohol by volume above 7.5 percent."
- HB 2250: This law, called the Humane Cosmetics Act, bans the use of animals for cosmetics testing. Then on July 1 of this year, it will be illegal to sell any cosmetics that used animal testing if the retailer knew that the "cosmetic or any component thereof was developed or manufactured using cosmetic animal testing that was conducted on or after January 1, 2022."
- HB 2075: This law renames any section of U.S. Route 1 still named "Jefferson Davis Highway", after the president of the Confederacy, will be renamed "Emancipation Highway". This would have impacted Chesterfield County until the Board of Supervisors voted in June to rename the highway as Route 1.
- HB 1930: This law prohibits most public universities and colleges (VMI and some law schools are exempt) from asking about someone's criminal history during the admission process or deny them entry based on their criminal history they may find out, but they are allowed to ask after someone has been admitted and may rescind their offer if it is determined the criminal history "poses a threat to the institution's community".
- HB 2138: This law allows the DMV to issue "identification privilege cards" to undocumented immigrants in the Commonwealth.
- HB 2007: This bill aims to provide transparency for prescription drug prices. It requires providers of prescription drugs such as health carriers and manufacturers to report information about prescription drug pricing to the Virginia Department of Health. VDH is supposed contract a nonprofit data services organization to make that information available on its website.
- SB 1157: This law moves all municipal elections for city/town councils and school boards held in May to November. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, 16 cities and 107 towns are impacted by this change -- including the town of Ashland. During the analysis of the impact of the bill, Ashland officials said the council and staff "are adamantly opposed to this proposal". They argued that the town already funded the May elections and should be allowed to choose when to hold them, adding shifting them to align with state and national elections "will likely increase the negative political noise in the local elections that have nothing to do with running a town."
- SB 1148: This law moves the primary election date in Virginia from the second Tuesday in June to the third Tuesday in June.
- HB 2198: This law require that in local government or school board elections for members representing a specific ward or district, they must only be elected by members of that district or ward rather than by the municipality at-large.
- HB 2019: This law requires each local school board to adopt and implement policies for the possession and administration of undesignated stock albuterol inhalers and valved holding chambers in every public school in the local school division.
- SB 1182: Starting in 2022, motor vehicle liability insurance will cover more in cases of bodily injury or death. For policies effective between today and January 1, 2025. For crashes where one person is killed or injured, the amount increases from $25,000 up to $30,000. For cases involving two or more people, the amount rises from $50,000 to $60,000.
Then, after January 1, 2025 -- those amounts increase to $50,000 for crashes with one victim and $100,000 for cases involving two or more. The bill's sponsor said this hasn't been changed since 1975 in Virginia.
Minimum Wage Increase
- SB 7: A bill from the 2020 session continues the incremental increase of the minimum wage in Virginia. The first increase was from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $9.50 on May 1, 2021. As of January 1, 2022 it is now $11.00. Several more increases will take place over the years until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 in 2026.